We were twelve days short of the baby’s due date, and from everything I had read about new moms usually going overdue, I was resigned to telling everyone I was sure the baby would be late. So when I awoke at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 5, to regular contractions, I was positive it had to be a false alarm. I turned on my hypnobirthing cd and tried to go back to sleep. Even after a few hours when I woke Tony and told him it might be the day, I didn’t believe it. At around 5:30, I lost my mucous plug and began to feel that perhaps I would have a baby that day. At 7:00 a.m., when we finally got too excited to stay in bed, we got up and had breakfast. We’d planned to go to the Temple early in February to make sure we made it before the baby was born, and I was determined not to change the plan. As soon as I got up, the contractions slowed down. I called my midwife, Marilyn, but couldn’t get ahold of her. When I described the contractions to her backup, Trinette, she said labor would probably pick up that night or the next morning, and it would be fine to go to the Temple.
We left for the Temple at about 10:30 a.m. We only live a few blocks away, so we walked. My contractions started picking up again, and we later decided (somewhat arbitrarily, since I didn’t feel a definite difference) that “active labor” had begun in the Temple. In any case, I had a difficult time concentrating, because I was so excited. When we arrived home, our answering machine informed us that Marilyn had also been in the Temple that morning. I called her at about 12:30 p.m., and she said she’d be by in an hour or so to check me. To our surprise, I was already completely effaced and 3 centimeters dilated. This didn’t seem bad at all. I had thought I would feel suddenly, dramatically different when I went into labor. I felt periodic tightening in my uterus, but it wasn’t even uncomfortable, and I just relaxed my abdomen every time I felt one coming on. Nobody else could tell I was having contractions, not even Tony. He spent quite a while making a webpage so he could upload pictures of the baby as soon as possible. It took Marilyn and Tony several trips to bring up all her birth supplies. Tony moved the couch out on to the balcony to make room for the birthing tub. We turned on our hypnobirthing music and I bounced around on my birthing ball for a while. Marilyn started brewing her peri tea and setting out her homeopathics and aromatherapy. At around 5:00 p.m. I made our favorite Greek pizza on homemade whole wheat crust. I was starting to eye the tub, but Marilyn said it would be better if I stayed out of it for a little while longer. I was around 5 or 6 centimeters. I settled down on a comfortable chair, and Tony read me the rosebud hypnobirthing script. I put the pizza in the oven and Tony and I tried out some of the birthing ball/partner relaxation techniques. Trinette arrived with her cute and very well-behaved three-month-old baby, Tucker. I went to take a nap, but lying down on the bed was not a comfortable position for me at 6.5 centimeters. I was ready for the tub. I shed my clothes in the living room and got into the tub. Marilyn sprinkled an essential oil blend called “gentle baby” that smelled of roses in the water. She took out her little doll and play-pelvis to show me where the baby was. She said the baby was at station plus 1. Tony got in the water too, and we snuggled and giggled between contractions. During contractions, I would get on my hands and knees and he would push on both sides of my pelvis. The contractions started getting more intense, and closer together, and I became less conversational between them. Mostly I would just rest on the side of the pool between contractions. I got out of the water to go to the bathroom a few times, but contractions out of the water were much less pleasant. Poor Tony, when he tried to tell me I was doing a great job, I told him not to talk so much. During contractions, I would moan a long, low, drawn out “ohhhhhhhh.”
As I neared transition, I asked Tony if I could do it. He said yes, and when he tried to give me a hug, I told him not to touch me so much. I threw up all the pizza I had eaten and all the cranberry juice I had drunk, but I refused to throw up twice in the same container, so the midwives went scrambling around for more receptacles. I said I felt like a wimp, and everyone made encouraging noises. Marilyn said, “here, have some valor,” and gave me a sniff of another aromatherapy blend. I started to feel like pushing, and Marilyn checked and said I had a little bit of a lip. She held it away while I pushed, and in a couple of pushes it was gone. I started pushing squatted in the pool with Tony supporting me from behind, but then I decided it would be better to hang from his arms. He held me up the whole time I pushed (he told me later he almost dropped me). At first, I didn’t quite understand how to push, but I got the hang of it after a little while. It felt a lot better to push, but I was suddenly utterly exhausted. Marilyn told me to feel the head, and I felt it. It was soft and covered with downy hair, and suddenly I felt like I could keep pushing. All in all, I only pushed for 21 minutes, but it seemed like way longer. I think they held up a mirror for me to see, but I don’t remember what I saw. Then suddenly, with one big push, the baby came all the way out. I remember that part very well. It was surreal, that she had been inside of me, and now she was outside. She had a head full of dark, wet hair, and she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She was slippery and so tiny she was shivering. She came out purple, but she turned pink right away. I sat down in the water again with Tony behind me, and snuggled her on my chest. We both forgot to check to see if it was a boy or girl, until Marilyn reminded us. I couldn’t take my eyes off her face. She looked and looked at me with her big, dark eyes and made little noises and faces. The music drifted along still, in the background, and we were together, we three, for the first time, as if we were the first family in the world.
Axa Elisabeth Familia was born at 10:06 on February 5, 2005, after 21.5 hours of labor, 12 hours, 21 minutes of active labor. She weighed 6 lbs., 3 oz. and was 19 inches long.
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